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Enrolled nursing cohort celebrated ahead of state exams

09 July, 2024

Kim Milward scholarship awarded to “diligent and compassionate student”.


Sonia Rewha is congratulated by Department of Health Practice Academic Manager Roxanne Will with David Milward (right).

The end of a study programme is always a milestone moment, but it was an extra special one recently for Ara Institute of Canterbury’s latest Enrolled Nursing cohort.

Some exceptional ākonga were acknowledged as the group signed off their coursework and headed off to prepare for July’s state finals.

In an emotional moment, ākonga Sonia Rewha was warmly acknowledged by the department, her peers and New Zealand Nursing Organisation (NZNO) representatives when she was awarded the Kim Milward scholarship for 2024.

The scholarship, in memory of a much-loved and respected enrolled nurse, is awarded to a student who displays the human qualities, and work-ethic that made Kim Milward special.

Speaking to those gathered, Milward’s husband David said his wife, who died from breast cancer in 2013, was a proud enrolled nurse who was a staunch advocate for her patients and valued the camaraderie essential to the profession.


Left to right David Milward, Sonia Rewha and Diploma of Enrolled Nursing Programme Leader and Senior Academic Lorna Davies

He said he was humbled to award the scholarship to Rewha who the citation described as someone bringing “compassion and non-judgmental energy to their work, improving the patient experience and creating a positive work environment for colleagues.”

Rewha said she had been a caregiver from the age of 19 and decided to take the natural step into nursing. She described the 18-month programme as a good fit as a mum of two young sons but also shared that she had drawn on wide support from Ara and whānau to manage the challenges both academically and personally.

“My husband has been my backbone picking me up and dropping me off at my placements. He’s the one who’s put his own life on hold so I can get through for our two children,” she said.

“The award will mean a lot to my family. Bills getting paid, stress going out the window and a bit of peace of mind before heading into work.”

The work she aspires to do and is passionate about is improving mental health outcomes for Māori.

“I feel authentic in that area of healthcare. A lot of a consumers in mental health are fellow Māori and I think it will be beneficial for them as Māori if they are nursed by Māori. It is where I want to be and where I want to help heal and inspire others.”

Rewha’s determination can only be described as personal.

“I was drawn to the enrolled nursing programme due to the pain I have experienced within my own whānau in terms of suicide, incarceration and drug addiction,” she said.

“I just don’t want to see my people experiencing that anymore and if I have to go to places like Hillmorton (hospital) and the prison to nurse them, I will. I want them to see I was once a young naive Māori trying to navigate this world and they can be where I am – it just takes a bit of effort and the right mindset,” she said.


Award recipients (left to right) Frances Kapeneta, Sonia Rewha and Harrison McKay

Other students recognised at the end-of-course enrolled nursing event were Greymouth-based Harrison McKay who was awarded the NZNO Student EN Leadership and Excellence award and Blenheim-based Frances Kapeneta who took out the NZNO Student EN Excellence in Clinical Placement.

Diploma of Enrolled Nursing Programme Leader and Senior Academic Lorna Davies said the 2024 cohort had been a cohesive and supportive group from diverse backgrounds including international students.

Wishing them well for their final exams, she noted their expertise would soon be found “across the health sector.”

“Our students will be found in GP practices, district nursing, acute medical and surgical settings. You name it, you’ll find them - and anywhere in the country too.”